Biome began 12 years ago, the same year as my second baby girl. Our daughters have grown up only knowing Biome as a feature in our lives. I hope that experiencing their mother grow this fantastic sustainable and compassionate business has enriched their lives. After all, it is for them and future generations that we have undertaken this endeavour.
Today, Biome is a nationwide planet and people-friendly lifestyle community with our online store plus four physical stores in Brisbane. We employ 25 people and provide a marketplace for hundreds of suppliers of responsible products, along with education about healthy, green living.
We are the only eco-store in prime CBD, “high street” locations in Australia, successfully bringing eco to the mainstream shopping arena.
What inspired you? Looking into the eyes of a creature that can not speak for itself, but is so close to human is breathtaking. Orang-utans are one of the endangered species that will disappear from our planet if we continue to disrupt the natural balance. Biome was established to help individuals change that course through their purchasing decisions.
I love being a Mumpreneur because? the Board of Directors (i.e. me!) direct that school assemblies and concerts outrank a business meeting. These days, I am grateful for a wonderful support team when I am with the children, but that wasn’t always so. We’ve done the hard yards and now I try to give others the flexibility to deal with their family’s needs.
My greatest challenge has been? the immense learning across wide disciplines. As the GM of a small business, you are the head of every department from Human Resources to Marketing, Operations, IT and Finance. Until you can afford others to help, you have to do it all. Even after 12 years, I lead most of these areas because there is not the budget to employ others. I have devoted a great amount of personal time to teaching myself about all areas of business, and in particular, new technology, the internet and social media.
Achievements the past 12 months: We established a headquarters and warehouse which finally provides a central home for our team to be together, and I have moved out of home to the office.
We opened our fourth store, this time in a major commercial shopping centre, and the response has been incredible.
Despite increasing competition from both mainstream and eco-minded stores, we have grown sales by 40% through great customer service and community building.
We have also grown to employ more staff, and educate more people about living gently on our planet.
Advice for others: Choose an area that you love because only passion will fuel the countless unpaid hours that it takes to build a business.
Set up support, ask for help, and give in return.
Attend conferences and professional development opportunities. Many people are willing to freely share their expertise and you will need it!
Build value in your business by writing into procedures everything that you do.
Show your children that they are more important than the business.
Twelve years ago, we were the first online eco-living store in Australia. We have grown that to four stores as well. We have provided a market for many “infant” eco products that have since become commonplace. Once a product becomes readily available, we have to constantly push the next frontier of eco-friendly living.
Retail is a tough industry. Particularly so for us, because we do not deal in mass produced, cheap items. We stock products with integrity and ingredient disclosure. We mostly stock Australian-made, boutique products with low margins. Despite this, we have survived to employ 25 people, and reliably pay our bills!
We have built an awesome community of engaged and conscious customers with active social media.